News Archive

UNITY Conference & CNJO meet in DC

"UNITY is really about collaboration," said UNITY President Ernest Sotomayor as he addressed those gathered at the Council of National Journalism Organizations. Over 40 people, the biggest attendance ever for a CNJO meeting, gathered at the Washington Convention Center for their annual summer meeting, coinciding with the UNITY conference (www.unityjournalists.org).

[Unity: Peter Weitzel, of the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, speaks to CNJO at UNITY at the Washington Convention Center in Washington. At left is Ted Gest of the Criminal Justice Journalists, and at right is Eric Hegedus of the National Lesbian and Gay Hournalists Association. Photograph by Linda D. Epstein/KRT]

More than 7,000 people had registered for UNITY by Monday night. UNITY is an alliance of AAJA, the Asian American Journalists Association; NABJ, the National Association of Black Journalists; NAHJ, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; and NAJA, the Native American Journalists Association. While each group meets individually each year, the four groups hold a joint conference every five years to bring minority journalism organizations together in one event.

Representatives of various journalism organizations such as the Society of News Design, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, American Copy Editors Society, Associated Press Photo Managers, and the Society of Professional Journalists attended CNJO.

[Unity: Hai Do (right), AME/Photo at The Journal News in White Plains, NY, and representing the Associated Press Photo Managers, speaks with Mark Mittelstadt of the Associated Press Managing Editors, at CNJO and UNITY at the Washington Convention Center. Photograph by Linda D. Epstein/KRT.]

Pete Weitzel, of the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government addressed the organization and asked that all the organizations coordinate their efforts to be more effective in getting information from the government. "We need to fight restrictions on information," Weitzel said.

Several training issues were brought to the attention of the organization including Poynter's training survey and Journalismtraining.org.

-- Linda Epstein, NPPA Region 3 director

Weight: 
0

Legendary Photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson, 95, Dies in France

PARIS, France - Henri Cartier-Bresson, 95, the legendary pillar of modern photojournalism who documented half a century of history by capturing it in iconic images that he called "decisive moments," one of the founding members of Magnum Photos who eventually put his camera down to return to his first love of drawing and painting, has died at his home in southern France.

[Henri Cartier-Bresson: The 'father of photojournalism,' Henri Cartier-Bresson, seen in 1972 in Forcalquier, the Alpes de Haute-Provence, France, has died in his home at the age of 95. Photograph © by Martine Franck/Magnum Photos.]

His family released a brief statement from Paris tonight: "The family of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson, and the photographers and staff of Magnum Photos are sad to announce the death of Henri Cartier-Bresson on the 3rd of August at 9:30 a.m., in his house in the county of Luberon (France). His funeral was held in the strictest of privacy. A commemoration will be held in honor of his memory at the beginning of September." No other details were available.

"He was perhaps the greatest photographer of the 20th century. There will never be another Henri Cartier-Bresson," said photography editor John G. Morris, a lifelong personal friend of Cartier-Bresson and the author of Get The Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism. Cartier-Bresson inspired countless generations of photographers. His images in Life,VogueHarper's Bazaar, and hundreds of magazines and books are as much art as they are photographs. His images have been shown in the leading museums of the world and constituted the first-ever photographic exhibit at the Louvre.

Cartier-Bresson was born August 22, 1908, outside Paris to a wealthy family with a thriving textile business. The International Herald Tribune reports that in the early 1900s, "almost every French sewing kit was stocked with Cartier-Bresson thread." At 20, as the oldest child who was expected to carry on the family business, Cartier-Bresson abandoned the textiles to study art and painting. His interest in photography didn't blossom until 1930 when he traveled around central Europe taking pictures. His travel photographs appeared in several magazines and were followed by his first show in 1933 in Spain, after which his career as a photojournalist of significance took flight.

Using small Leica rangefinders, and usually 50mm lenses and black and white film and relying only on existing light, he captured scenes of simple daily street life and devastating global war, the faces of both the famous and the unknown. Working on big stories as well as showing life's smallest, nearly invisible details, he made pictures at the exact moment when all the elements of a scene or its peak action came into place, when an image had its greatest "significance" or, as he termed it, was at its most "decisive" moment.

In 2003 as Cartier-Bresson's 95th birthday approached, Morris wrote a tribute to him in "A Letter From Paris" forNews Photographer magazine. The two became friends in August 1944, just days after Paris was liberated from German occupation, and they remained friends for life, later working together at Magnum Photos where Morris was executive director and Cartier-Bresson one of the agency's founding photographers. Morris almost always fondly referred to his friend Cartier-Bresson as "HCB."

"I arrived in Paris from London, a stranger, to take charge of Life's Paris bureau," Morris remembered. "It was temporarily in a room in the Hotel Scribe. Robert Capa says: 'I have a friend who can help you. He speaks English and knows his way around. His name is Henri Cartier-Bresson.' I had never heard of him, but the next morning a slight, blue-eyed young man shows up at the door of the Scribe. We go off on foot, making the rounds of photographers and picture agencies, including Wide World, in the deserted New York Times office. Henri takes me home for a simple lunch, apologizing, 'We don't buy on the black market.' I learn that he had been living and photographing underground, after escaping from a German prison camp.'"

Serving in the French Army, Cartier-Bresson had been captured in 1940 during the Battle of France and was a German prisoner of war for three years, twice attempting escape before success on his third attempt. He returned to Paris and after the war resumed photography. In 1937 he married Ratna Mohini, a dancer. In 1947, along with Robert Capa and David Seymour, he cofounded Magnum Photos. And in 1970 he married Martine Franck. Together they had a daughter, Melanie.

Cartier-Bresson's landmark book was The Decisive Moment, published in 1952. In 1960 a 400-print exhibit toured the United States, and on April 28, 2003, the Bibliotheque Nationale's Grand Galerie opened the largest one-man show in its history, called "Henri Cartier-Bresson: De qui s'agit-il?" (Who is he?). Morris said, "Its five-pound 'catalogue,' published in French by Gallimard and in English by Thames and Hudson, reproduced the show's 602 items, not to mention listing his 109 books and catalogues, 800 picture stories in magazines and newspapers, 270 photo exhibitions, 38 exhibitions of his drawings, his 14 films, and the 11 films and 320 articles about him."

The next day, April 29, the Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson opened with champagne at its newly refurbished five-story landmark building near the Gare Montparnasse. "Henri, as usual, tried to hide," Morris wrote afterwards. Cartier-Bresson strongly disliked being photographed and rarely granted interviews. Morris said, "The Foundation was the housekeeping solution of Henri's wife, Magnum photographer Martine Franck, for disposing of Henri's treasures of a lifetime -- 'He never throws anything away.'" Morris said, "HCB agreed to the Foundation on condition that the building be 'neither a museum nor a mausoleum.'"

Then, when Cartier-Bresson's expertise and fame were near its peak, he put down his camera. After photographing French President General Charles de Gaulle's funeral in 1970, Cartier-Bresson visited Morris in New York City. Morris was the photography editor of The New York Times in those days, and he arranged a dinner with newspaper's photography staff. "I did not realize it at the time, but just about then two things occurred that would change Henri's future," Morris wrote. "He had fallen in love with Martine Franck, then a photographer with Visa. And he had experienced a rebirth of his previous passion, to be an 'artist.' To him this meant sketching and painting. The two occurrences were not unrelated; one photographer in a family is normally enough, and Martine is very talented."

"Henri found a further excuse to quit photography in the advice of his longtime friend Teriade, publisher of The Decisive Moment, who told him that he had done everything that could be done in photography," Morris recalled. "Teriade was partly right. From the standpoint of style, Henri had scarcely deviated from his earliest work. But from the point of view of content, Teriade unfortunately proposed that Henri turn his back on the balance of the 20th century. History was the loser. However, thanks to Robert Delpire, who became Henri's editor, his pre-1970 work took the form of an unparalleled photographic commentary on our times."

Morris remembers warning Cartier-Bresson once, after critics reviewed his artwork without mentioning his earlier photographs, "If you're not careful, you're going to go down in history as a painter, not as a photographer." Morris said Cartier-Bresson replied, "I'm just a jack of all trades."

It was well known that Cartier-Bresson did not want his photographs to be cropped by picture editors. John Morris remembers, "At Magnum there were two rubber stamps used on Henri's press prints. One said that the photo should not be altered by cropping; the other said that the photograph should not be used in a way that violates the context in which it is taken. One stamp for BEAUTY, of form; one stamp for TRUTH."

Michael Evans was a staff photographer at The New York Times when Morris was the picture editor and was working there when Morris once convinced Cartier-Bresson to take a Times photography assignment for a "second front" feature -- a story that leads the second section's front page. "Morris worked with Cartier-Bresson on the final image, and the page was all laid out and there were strict orders left with the desk not to crop the image under any circumstances," Evans remembers. "Well, of course something happened, and the page got changed, and the image got cropped. And Henri went ballistic."

Trying to deal with the incident, Evans remembers, Morris went in and met with the newspaper's executive editor, Abe Rosenthal. "John said something to the effect of, 'We've got a problem, Henri's picture was cropped,'" Evans said, "and Rosenthal said, 'Well who the (expletive) is Henri Cartier-Bresson?' Then later Henri, in his exceptional French/English, responded in a similar fashion, 'Who the (expletive) is Abe Rosenthal?' I think it was the last assignment Cartier-Bresson shot for the Times," Evans said with a laugh.

Cartier-Bresson is survived by his wife, Martine Franck, and their daughter, Melanie.

Weight: 
0

NYC Police To Meet NYPPA, NPPA Members To Discuss Republican Convention Plans, Access

Members of the New York City Police Department will meet August 12 with representatives and members of the New York Press Photographers Association and the National Press Photographers Association to discussion preparations and policies for the upcoming Republican National Convention in New York City. The convention in Madison Square Garden begins August 30 and runs through September 2.

Todd Maisel, of the New York Daily News, who is secretary of the NYPPA, announced the Thursday, August 12, meeting with police. It will be held at 1 Police Plaza, New York, at 6:30 p.m. in the Pressroom Auditorium. An RSVP is required for admission to the meeting due to security concerns. There will be no exceptions.

The meeting will address what's been done to make convention areas secure, what access media will have at specific sites, and what will be done to insure media access to related events (including protests, rallies, and related disturbances). If you're covering the Republican convention, "You can't afford to miss this meeting," Maisel said.

Maisel said that police believe there have been past attempts to infiltrate the media in order to gain close access to political leaders and sensitive locations, so security measures to access this policy meeting will be in enforced. Maisel also extends the meeting invitation to representatives of NYPPA and NPPA publications, wire services, photography agencies, and magazines. Food and refreshments will be served.

To RSVP call +1.212.889.6633 or eMail [email protected] well before the meeting date. Absolutely no one will be admitted to the meeting who is not on the cleared guest list. Contact Todd Maisel for more information.

Weight: 
0

Reporters Committee Launches Arrest Hotline for Journalists at Democratic Convention

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has established a 24-hour free Media Hotline for credentialed journalists who run into legal trouble while covering the Democratic National Convention in Boston next week.

In cooperation with the law firm of Prince, Lobel, Glovsky & Tye LLP, the hotline is for journalists who are interfered with or assaulted covering the news, or who are arrested or detained during demonstrations or other disturbances, for the duration of the convention.

The Hotline telephone number is +1.888.428.7490 and will be available to all journalists who have been issued DNC credentials. Lawyers staffing the hotline include Joe Steinfield, Rob Bertsche, David Plotkin, and Jeffrey Pyle. The backup telephone number is the Reporters Committee's hotline, which is +1.800.336.4243.

A flyer outlining procedures for resolving problems arising from detention or arrest is online athttp://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/dnc2004.pdf.

The Washington-based Reporters Committee, a nonprofit association of reporters and editors established in 1970, provides cost-free legal advice and research assistance to journalists and their lawyers. The Reporters Committee has established such hotlines at national conventions since 1972.

For further information, contact executive director Lucy Dalglish at the Reporters Committee, +1.703.807.2100, or Joe Steinfield or Rob Bertsche at Prince, Lobel, Glovsky & Tye LLP, +1.617.456.8018.

Weight: 
0

Texas Reporter who Survived Live Truck Accident Shares Story for the First Time (Video)

On June 8th, 2004 KBTX reporter Jennifer Cavazos, photojournalist Matt Moore, and two interns were assigned to cover a gas well accident in rural Robertson County Texas. After gathering video, they drove to a known live location in nearby Hearne. They were setting up for a tape feed for KBTX's 6PM newscast. Moore raised the mast to tune in, while standing outside the truck. While raising the mast, the truck came into contact with overhead power lines. Moore was electrocuted and critically injured. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Cavazos and the two interns escaped the vehicle alive. Cavazos and the interns hopped away from the truck and ran to safety to call 911. On August 23rd, with Moore's parents in attendance, Cavazos spoke at a live truck safety seminar put on by Austin Energy in Austin, TX. Her emotional and compelling description of the incident can be viewed here. She wants her story to be told. She hopes that those involved in electronic news gathering will hear her words and look up and live.

Weight: 
0

Party Before The GOP Convention

The New York Press Photographers Association invites all NYPPA and NPPA members to a kick-off party before the Republican presidential convention starts. Todd Maisel, of the New York Daily News, secretary of the NYPPA, announced that the party will be Sunday, August 29, at 7 p.m. at B&H Photo, 9th Ave. and 33rd Street, in New York City. There will be a complementary bar and food, and manufacturing representatives will be demonstrating new equipment.

For security reasons an RSVP is required. No one will be admitted otherwise. You can email [email protected] or call +1.212.889.6633 to get on the party guest list.

Weight: 
0

Peter Turnley's Photo-Essays To Debut In Harper's Magazine

Photojournalist Peter Turnley and Harper's Magazine will debut in the August issue the first of four major eight-page photo essays by the New York and Paris-based journalist, stories that Harper's Magazine will showcase over the next year. Turnley, who will be added to Harper's masthead as a contributing editor, will work directly with the editor in chief, Lewis H. Lapham, and the magazine's art director, Stacey Clarkson, on the creation and presentation of his visual stories. Turnley was just recently offered this one-year renewable agreement with Harper's.

[Essays in Harper's: Peter Turnley will have four eight-page essays in Harper's Magazine over the next year as a contributing editor.]

"This opportunity with Harper's to author my own photographic stories is exactly where I would like to be at this point in my life and career," Turnley told News Photographer. "I'm very excited to have my work published in a magazine that has always had such a tradition of great journalism and storytelling." Harper's Magazineis an American journal of literature, politics, culture, and the arts and has published continuously since 1850.

"This is a great opportunity, and the relationship with Harper'sis certainly very exciting for me," Turnley said, "but it also represents a terrific evolution in magazine journalism." The magazine's dedication to eight pages of photojournalism for each of the four essays is a significant commitment to visual storytelling. I have always been inspired and committed to the notion that visual storytelling through photography can be its own fully embodied form of powerful communication in its own right, and it is very exciting to have a publication support this belief. Maybe too often today in the field of journalism, photography is used to illustrate text and be at the service of prose, and it's wonderful to find the support of the philosophy that a photographer can be the author of his or her own stories using visual language."

"The fundamental philosophy of what we're going to do in these essays is that my work will be that of a visual author in the pure tradition of the photographic story. It's quite positive, in a time when we often hear about the 'death of photojournalism,' that a magazine with such a strong tradition of publishing great prose has decided to partner with a photojournalist to publish long-form pieces of visual storytelling."

"This first essay speaks in images about a very important theme touching our world today in a way that I don't think has been seen much before elsewhere," Turnley said from New York before returning to Paris. "The first story has been laid out for the August issue, which will go to subscribers in the middle of July and will be on newsstands at the beginning of August."

A graduate of the University of Michigan in 1977, the Sorbonne, and then the Institut d'Etudes Politiques of Paris in 1981, Turnley was a contract photographer for Newsweek Magazine from 1984 to 2001. He was a Neiman fellow at Harvard University in 2000-2001. A native of Ft. Wayne, IN, he now spends his time living in Paris and New York City. He's recently launched a new personal Web site that includes several different portfolios of his documentary work, along with personal photographs from his journeys around the world. The new site, www.peterturnley.com, also has information about his books (including ParisiansIn Times of War and PeaceBeijing Spring, and Moments of Revolution). Turnley's editorial and commercial work is represented by Corbis.

 

 

 

 

Weight: 
0

New York Upholds Ban On Cameras In The Courtroom

The Appellate Division, Supreme Court, First Judicial Department of New York has voted 5-0 in favor of upholding a ban on cameras in New York courtrooms, saying the ban is Constitutional. The ruling, made June 22, was the result of an appeal by Courtroom Television Network (Court TV) in its suit against the State of New York. Court TV brought the original lower court case on September 5, 2001 hoping to have the ban overturned by seeking a declaration that Section 52 of the state's civil rights law was unconstitutional under both the New York and U.S. Constitutions.

The National Press Photographers Association, through its lawyers, submitted an Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) brief on March 19 supporting Court TV's challenge and joining in the call to overturn the ban. As an organization with a strong interest in the subject, NPPA is permitted by law to file such a document in matters of broad public interest.

"We're not quite dead yet, but it's unfortunate," said attorney Mickey H. Osterreicher. He helped draft the Amicus Brief for NPPA as "of counsel." As a photojournalist for more than thirty years and an NPPA member since 1972, he has worked as a still photographer and videographer in Buffalo, NY. In 1995 he enrolled in law school and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1999.

New York is one of only three states that still ban cameras from the courtroom. It is also one of only a handful of states where the Legislature, not the state's highest court, enacts the law dealing which such matters.

"We reject the contention that a right to televise court proceedings exists under New York Constitution article 1, section 8," the court said in their ruling. "There is no precedent in New York recognizing such a right." They also ruled, "There is no federal Constitutional right to televise court proceedings," citing the cases of Santiago v. Bristol and United States v Moussaoui.

The justices also said while the New York Constitution has, in some instances, been "more protective of expressional freedoms than the Federal Constitution," in this instance there's no precedent that has to do with the public's access to court proceedings.

Court TV's motion cited the case of Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia as standing for the public's First Amendment right to "observe" trials on television without physically attending the proceedings. But the New York ruling responded to that claim by saying that the Richmond case "merely held that the 'right to attend criminal trials is implicit in the guarantees of the First Amendment'" and that it "articulate (ed) a right to attend trials, not a right to view them on a television screen."

But the court did leave the door open for future change when they recognized the fact that the ban on cameras in New York courts is a matter ultimately determined by the New York Legislature, not the state's courts. They ended their ruling saying, "We also appreciate that this is a matter that can be reviewed by the State Legislature should it decide to do so."

"The courts have always suggested that it's up to the Legislature to change this," Osterreicher said. "In New York the Legislature is the one that enables or prohibits cameras in the courtroom. The problem in New York is that the Legislature can't even pass a budget on time, and they've just retired for the summer without passing a New York State budget for the twentieth year. Given how they can't pass a budget, I can't see them getting together to do anything about this law banning cameras in the court. It's just not on their priority list."

The Court TV case had been filed in New York's Supreme Court, which is the lowest court in the state despite its name. It was then upheld 5-0 by the state's Appellate Division, which is the middle tier of New York's court system. New York's highest court is the Court of Appeals. "Hopefully the Court of Appeals will be willing to hear this case, and hopefully Court TV will file that appeal. But the Court of Appeals can decide not to hear an appeal, and then it gets tough," Osterreicher said. "If they hear the case and uphold the ban as being Constitutional, then it can be appealed to the United States Supreme Court. But if the Court of Appeals refuses to hear the appeal, there are more legal hurdles to leap before the U.S. Supreme Court would be willing to consider this matter." The last time the high court ruled on a case involving cameras in the courtroom was 1981.

Weight: 
0

Omaha TV Photojournalist Killed By Car While Shooting Highway Accident Story

Jeff Frolio, 45, a photojournalist for KETV NewsWatch 7 in Omaha, NE, was killed on the job Thursday June 10 when he struck by car while he was working on a news story at a highway intersection where two Nebraska teenagers were killed in May. Police said Frolio was struck by a westbound car as he crossed Center Road. He was shooting a story on a memorial scene that has been established at the previous accident's site. The photojournalist was evacuated by a medical rescue helicopter to Creighton University Medical Center where he died soon after arrival.

Frolio is survived by his wife, Marianne, and three children: Nicki, 18; David, 15; and Carly, 8.

[Killed by Car: Photojournalist Jeff Frolio, 45, a photojournalist for KETV in Omaha, NE, was killed when he was hit by a car while covering the scene of a previous fatal accident. Photograph provided by KETV.]

The veteran photojournalist was on the highway covering a story about two Elkhorn, NE, teens, both 15-years-old, who died at the intersection May 4 in a two-car accident. A memorial of flowers, crosses, and flags has been set up on one side of the road. Sheriff Dunning told the AP that the accident site is near the top of a hill and heavily traveled, especially at that time of day.

"I hired Jeff in April 1984 from Sioux Falls," KETV chief photographer Scott Buer remembers on the morning after Frolio's death. "He was coming back home to Omaha, and I remember being really happy to get him. He was talented, and he wanted to stay here, and his family was all here. Whenever you get a guy like Jeff, it's a real blessing. And he just hit the ground running."

Police told the Omaha World-Herald that the driver of the car that struck Frolio, a 45-year-old woman from Fremont, NE, says that she didn't see Frolio until after the 5 p.m. accident, when she saw him in her rear-view mirror after he was hit. Investigators said that neither speed nor alcohol is believed to be a factor in the accident, and they do not anticipate filing charges. The driver's name was not released.

"Jeff was extremely careful," Buer said, "so we're all shocked. The satellite truck was out there parked about fifty yards away. The reporter and the engineer were in the truck. Jeff was editing, looking at the story, and it was about 20 minutes until air. Jeff told them, 'I can do better than this,' and decided to go out and do two more shots. They were going to do a live report and use some file, but Jeff told them, 'I'm going to get some fresh stuff on this.'" Frolio was going to jog over and get two shots, and jog back to the truck.

Buer said Frolio got out of the satellite truck and had about fifty yards to go to the memorial site. "The reporter and engineer waited, and then after five or six minutes they wondered, 'Where's Jeff?' so they looked out of the truck and saw the car that had hit him was stopped, and Jeff and a woman were down on the side of the road," Buer said. "At first they thought Jeff was helping the woman, but then they realized what was happening."

Frolio twice won the Nebraska Photographer of the Year award, and had been with KETV since 1984. Before that he worked for KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls, SD. KETV reports on their Web site that Frolio "has played a key role in coverage of almost every major local story since he joined the station," and that his work locker displays a quote from photographer Richard Avedon: "There's no such thing as objectivity. The minute you pick up the camera, you begin to lie -- or to tell your own truth. It's not the camera that makes a good picture, but the eye and mind of the photographer."

KETV reports that Frolio grew up in the Florence neighborhood of Omaha and has deep family roots there. He graduated from North High School and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He was a writer and actor and in May had performed with the Florentine Players, KETV reports, in a melodramatic play that he wrote in which he appeared as a villain. KETV says that Frolio wrote and produced plays for the group each year.

Buer said, "So many of us, our lives are just consumed by the job. Jeff was an extremely balanced person. He didn't allow the job to consume him. He was a talented musician; He played the keyboard and sang. He could cover any Beatles tune. He liked rock and roll, especially Boston, and Genesis. And he was an actor and a scriptwriter. He played the best villains, oiling back his black hair and putting on one of those pencil mustaches. He was a talented comedic writer."

"Words of sorrow always seem so empty, but I'm sorry for the loss of a great husband and father, for the loss of a long-time member of the KETV family, and for the loss of a great photojournalist," said Ray Meints, of Nebraska Educational TV. Meints is also NPPA Region 9 Director.

"I can tell you something about Jeff that will let you know what kind of person he was to work with," Buer said. "He got frustrated looking for file video early in his career, so he started his own file archive that was accessible to the entire staff. We called it 'The Fro File' because his nickname was 'The Fro Man.' No one pronounced Frolio right, so he became 'Fro.' The archive has more than 200 tapes that he compiled in the twenty years he's been here. He carefully, meticulously archived images when he saw good stuff on the air. He would go to the photographer and say, 'I need your field tape,' and then he'd go through it and get the good original sound and images and archive the good stuff."

Frolio was the second TV photojournalist killed on the job this week in the States. On Tuesday, June 8, Matthew Moore, 23, of KBTX-TV in Bryan/College Station, TX, was killed when the mast of the microwave truck he was operating touched overhead electrical wires in Hearne, TX. Moore had been with the station for a little more than a year after graduating with a journalism degree from Texas A&M University.

 

 

 

 

Weight: 
0

Texas TV Photographer Killed When Mast Hits Wires

Photojournalist Matthew Moore, 23, of KBTX-TV3 in College Station, TX, was killed in Hearne, TX, when the mobile broadcast mast he was deploying from the station's live news van came in contact with overhead power lines on Tuesday June 8. Moore was setting up to feed video back to the station from near Hearne High School's football field for a 6 p.m. newscast, after covering a gas well explosion in Robertson County.

[Fatally Injured: Matthew Moore, of KBTX-TV, died when the mast of his live van touched overhead wires. Photograph by KBTX-TV]

Reporter Jennifer Cavasos and two college interns with them were unharmed, but as a precaution they were taken to a hospital emergency room for examination. Station general manager and vice president Mike Wright said in a statement that Moore was electrocuted and critically injured, and soon thereafter was pronounced dead at the scene.

Moore, Cavasos, and the two student interns had been sent to cover a Robertson County oil well accident near Franklin, TX, that injured eight workers. The interns were identified as Erin Price, 22, and Amy LeFever, 22.

Reports from other photojournalists covering the oil well accident, who then went to the live truck's accident scene, said the KBTX-TV3 van was parked directly under power lines. One reporter said the KBTX-TV3 team had left the scene of the oil well accident to drive to nearby Hearne to file their story.

KBTX-TV3 said that Moore was from Temple, TX, and graduated with a journalism degree from Texas A&M University in 2003. He had worked for KBTX-TV3 in Bryan/College Station full time since September 2003.

Dusty Kraatz, 24, a KBTX-TV3 staff photographer, said Moore "was going to feed video from their story — and they were just pressed for time." Kraatz recalls that he "talked to Matt yesterday all the way out the door, and he was pumped to go out there and cover a big-deal news story."

George Howell is a reporter for KXAN-TV in Austin who arrived on the scene about an hour after the accident. "From what we could see, the mast had gone up to about the first level and had hit high voltage power lines," he said. The truck caught fire and burned. People nearby told Howell they heard the sound of a large explosion.

Kraatz says reporter Jennifer Cavasos probably saved her own life and the lives of the two student interns when she realized what was happening. "The van started to fill with smoke," Kraatz said Cavasos told them afterwards, "and she's been around live trucks before. All three of them said they could hear Matt." Kraatz said Cavasos knew the power lines were on the passenger side of the parked van, so she instructed the interns to leap out of the driver's side door and to run across the street. Cavasos followed them out of the van. The trio then ran across the street to a house where they called 911.

Moore was apparently outside the truck raising the mast, Kraatz said, when the mast touched the overhead power lines. "Then either he touched the truck, or leaned in to grab something and touched." Kraatz said this particular live van had mast controls that were on a box that hangs inside the van, but that it could be taken outside and used as a hand-held unit to operate the mast. "We don't have sensors on the mast to stop it from rising before it hits something," Kraatz said.

"The rain was really strong at times yesterday. It came and went in big downpours," Howell remembers. "I don't know, it would only be speculation, but maybe because of the rain he (Moore) didn't get a chance to see, or he didn't look up in the rain to see (the power lines)."

Howell said Hearne police chief Robert Parsley told him, "We couldn't get to him (Moore). He was between the truck and the fence. We told him not to touch the truck or the fence." Howell said rescue workers, who were unable to approach the van due to the electricity coming from the lines and into the truck, called the electric company in Waco, TX, and told them to kill power to the entire city of Hearne. "He (Parsley) didn't want to endanger the rescue personnel by letting them approach the electrified truck," Howell said.

While waiting for the power to be shut off, rescue workers used loudspeakers on their vehicles to tell Moore to not touch the truck and to not touch the fence, Howell said. "I was told that for about 40 minutes the workers could not approach the truck, and that he (Moore) was apparently in the truck but then he somehow touched the ground," Howell said. Chief Parsley told Howell afterwards that Moore "eventually touched the truck or the fence, and that resulted in him being killed."

"They were not going to do a live shot from there. There were no cables out or anything," Howell said. "Apparently they were just going to feed their story. I've heard it's hard to get shots out of there and in some of the nearby locations because of the geography, the valley, and that maybe this was one of the spots where you can feed video from Hearne. Maybe he thought this was one of the good spots where he could get his shots out," Howell said.

"There are times in the business when you're just moving so fast, you don't take that mandatory step (of looking up)," Howell said. "Maybe that's what happened."

Kraatz says coworker Moore "was one of my best friends. He was living in my apartment and I was staying with my girlfriend and in a few days he was going to move to Austin. He told me that it would just be a couple of weeks before he'd be gone, and that he'd interviewed at KXAN-TV in Austin and he was looking forward to going over there. We were all going to move to Austin at about the same time and set up shop there to see what kind of trouble we could get into," Kraatz said on the day following the accident. "He was still sending tapes to KXAN-TV in Austin — and this was another big story to add to his resume."

Chief Parsley said Tuesday night that Moore's death was "an accidental electrocution." The accident is under investigation by the Robertson County Sheriff's department because it's in their jurisdiction, but they refused to release any information on the accident and referred all calls to the Hearne police department. Parsley, who was a witness at scene of the accident, on Wednesday refused to make any additional comments on what he saw there, referring all questions to the Hearne city attorney, who was also unavailable for comment.

"We really helped each other out," Kraatz said. At one time the chief photographer at KBTX-TV3, Kraatz has since gone back to shooting. Remembering his good friend, he said, "I was feeling very uninspired when I was chief photographer. I was down and not enjoying doing the job any more. And Matt, something just clicked in him and he started shooting outstanding packages, and there was this protege feeling, and there would be something that I had showed him months ago and he'd call me into the edit bay and say, 'Hey, look what I shot.' He loved kids, and he loved sports. You could put him up against the best at ESPN and he'd blow anyone out of the water."

"Matt had the best dry sense of humor. He'd light up the room with his one-liners," Kraatz said. "Each day, each week, he would come back with better video. He was honestly one of the smartest guys I know, especially when it comes to sports trivia. The last couple of months he just lit up the newsroom, too. He had just hit the peak of his game and he showed no signs of stopping."

Todd Bynum, chief photographer for KXAN-TV in Austin, TX, says he talked to Moore on the telephone for a couple of hours "just less than a week ago. It's really odd, to spend a couple of hours of someone's life with them, and then this happens," Bynum said today.

"I can't emphasize enough how everyone in a live truck has to understand the whole concept of looking up and walking around a live van," Bynum said. It's my understanding there were four people with that truck, two interns, a reporter, and Moore, and everyone needs to follow the procedure of getting out and looking up. It's everyone's responsibility to play it safe. If you get in a hurry, you lose track. But that rule about getting out, walking around the live van, is so important. Sure it's important to make your slot, but it's more important to be very, very cautious and safe."

 

 

 

Weight: 
0